Jerzy Neyman


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(1894–1981; b. Bendery, Russia; d. Oakland, CA)

Polish probabilist and mathematical statistician who spent the majority of his career in the United States. Neyman's paternal grandfather was a Polish nobleman, burned alive during the 1863 uprising against the Russians. His father was exiled as a twelve-year-old to the Crimea, where he trained as a lawyer. Jerzy, who was born Jerzy Splawa-Neyman, studied physics and mathematics at U Kharkov, where Bernstein was an influential teacher. On the outbreak of war between Poland and Russia, Neyman was arrested as an enemy alien. On his release he got a job as a statistician although claiming to know no statistics! To train, he went first to Berlin and then to study under Karl Pearson at UCL, where he met Gosset and, crucially, Egon Pearson. His work with Egon Pearson laid down the Neyman–Pearson theory of hypothesis testing with the introduction of the ideas of an alternative hypothesis and of power. At the onset of another war, fearing a further spell of imprisonment as an enemy alien, he moved to the USA, where he became Director of the Statistical Laboratory at UCB. In 1949 he was President of the IMS and also its Rietz Lecturer. He was elected to the NAS in 1963. He was awarded the Guy Medal in Gold of the RSS in 1966 and the Wilks Award of the ASA in 1968.

Subjects: Probability and Statistics.

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